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The intensity of play could double calorie burn while playing pickleball.

Exercise science has long established the relationship between exercise intensity and fuel utilization. High-intensity exercises like sprinting tend to burn more simple sugars (glucose) whereas lower-intensity longer duration exercises like walking will burn more complex fuels like fat (adipose). [1]

Faster and longer rallies will result in higher intensity play and more total calorie burn. If a pickleball player is interested in burning more calories from fat, and low to moderate-intensity game would burn more fat calories whereas a high-intensity game may burn more calories in the form of glucose instead of fat.


Bigger bodies burn more calories.

A bigger body takes more work and as a result, burns more calories to move. A taller, heavier person will burn more calories playing the same number of minutes of pickleball.

Body Composition

Lean muscle mass is metabolically more expensive than fat. In other words, a person with 1 extra pound of muscle may burn 50 calories more a day than a person of the same body weight with 1 extra pound of fat.

The more fit you are the fewer calories you burn.

Ironically, the more out of shape someone is the more calories that person may burn for the same amount of time activity. This is because the activity becomes easier and your body becomes more efficient.

Thankfully a more fit individual is capable of playing pickleball at a higher intensity and that person’s metabolism becomes more efficient at burning fat as a fuel source.

More skilled pickleball players burn fewer calories.

Have you ever watched a professional athlete make their performance look effortless? That is because the thousands of repetitions that have allowed them to become professional have also made them so efficient that there is no wasted energy in their performance.

A more skilled pickleball player will anticipate where the ball is going better than a beginner. A more skilled pickleball player will win points more quickly and matches will be shorter.

Singles vs Doubles

Obviously, players in a singles pickleball match will need to cover more ground and burn more calories than players in a doubles match.

In this short video Cory the Trainer shares hist weight loss story playing pickleball.


Pickleball can be a great way to increase calorie burn, socialize with friends, and get in shape. It may not be as effective at burning calories as jogging or weight lifting, but it may be an important part of anyone’s fitness routine.


1. van Loon LJ, Greenhaff PL, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Saris WH, Wagenmakers AJ. The effects of increasing exercise intensity on muscle fuel utilisation in humans. J Physiol. 2001;536(Pt 1):295-304. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7793.2001.00295.x

2. Sergi G, Coin A, Sarti S, Perissinotto E, Peloso M, Mulone S, Trolese M, Inelmen EM, Enzi G, Manzato E. Resting VO2, maximal VO2 and metabolic equivalents in free-living healthy elderly women. Clin Nutr. 2010 Feb;29(1):84-8. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.07.010. Epub 2009 Aug 27. PMID: 19713012.

Anthony Maritato, PT

Anthony Maritato, PT

Physical Therapist / Author

Hi! My name is Anthony Maritato, PT but please call me Tony. I have been a licensed physical therapist since 2006 and a strength and conditioning coach since 2000.

I am new to the sport of pickleball, but I have been working with pickleball athletes for most of my physical therapy career. To learn more about my physical therapy clinic visit Total Therapy Solutions.

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